Down With The Ship

Do you love movies? ‘Cause I do! I don’t have television, netflix, video games or anything of that nature in my home (by choice) but I do love my movies! Probably because I’m a storyteller myself so it makes sense that I would gravitate towards other peoples stories too. One of the things that my family and I enjoy doing together is watching movies. We’re a movie watching kinda family.

About a month or so ago, my youngest son came over to visit with me. He wanted to watch a movie so I said he could choose what he wanted and we would watch it together. At first he chose ‘Braveheart’…a worthy choice. Classic. But about a few minutes into it he changed his mind and decided he wanted to watch ‘Ben-Hur’ instead. Another epic, classic choice. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie ‘Ben-Hur’ there are two full length feature films that have been made (originally based on the 1880 novel ‘Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ’ by Lew Wallace). The first one is a classic that was filmed in 1959 and stars Charlton Heston as Judah Ben-Hur. The remake of the same film was made in 2016 and stars Jack Huston as the leading character. The boys and I saw the newest version in theatres when it came out and liked it so when it came out on dvd later on, I bought it so we would have it at home.

We curled up on the couch and settled in to watch the movie. While I don’t want to give away any of the movie in case any of you haven’t seen it, I am going to have to give away a spoiler here in just a moment in order to get my point across so that you know where I am coming from later on. So, *SPOILER ALERT*!

In the movie, through a series of events, Judah Ben-Hur finds himself wrongfully accused and sent to work as a rower on board a Roman ship for 5 years. His life consists of rowing with all of the other slaves day and night, over and over, hungry and beaten, until one day there is a battle at sea and eventually Judah’s ship that he is rowing on gets attacked and is destroyed sending every man on the ship overboard and into the sea. Judah and all of the other slaves find themselves seemingly free. At first. However, Judah begins to be pulled under the water and finds himself sinking. No matter how hard he tries to fight and swim, he can’t get to the surface. And then he realizes that he, along with all the other slaves have all been chained to the ship at the ankle, for just this exact reason. In case the ship ever went down, the Romans didn’t want their slaves to be able to escape and have their freedom so if the ship ever went down, the slaves were to go down with it.

Judah, realizing he only has perhaps a couple of minutes before he drowns, puts 2 and 2 together and begins to pull the chain through the loop that is attached to the shackle on his ankle. The chain seems to go on forever and you find yourself on the edge of your seat watching him fight for his life. He begins to panic before the last of the chain finally pulls through his shackles and he is finally able to push himself to the surface at the last second for a much needed gasp of air while the ship and all the other men still chained to it continue their decent towards the bottom of the sea. Judah is now a free man and eventually finds himself washed ashore where he is found. Exhausted, dehydrated, hungry and very sore, but he is alive. He is free.

This scene is one of my favourite scenes in the movie. Probably because it is so relatable. I haven’t necessarily found myself chained to a Roman ship, but I do know what it feels like to be chained to something that made it feel like I couldn’t breathe. Have you ever felt that way before? In life? In relationships? Career? Dealing with your past? Have you ever had to break free from something or someone that was taking you “down with the ship”? Have you ever had to cut yourself loose from a situation that was disturbing your peace? I’m sure we can all raise our hands on that one.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life now where I have very little to no patience for anyone or anything that disturbs my peace or disrupts my life in any negative way. I just don’t put up with it anymore. Where I used to tolerate certain behaviours or situations, it’s much easier now for me to cut myself loose so I don’t find myself in a downward spiral as well. It’s easier to recognize the signs and the red flags. I know myself better now to know what is good for me and what is toxic and if it’s toxic, bye bye!

I distinctly remember the day that I became divorced. It felt like an actual weight was lifted from me. That’s the only way I can describe it. And for the next decade I raised 2 handsome, amazing boys, went back to school, worked whatever job I could get my hands on that would provide for my kids. I was paying my own bills for the first time in my life. Was it stressful? Yes! I traded the stress from being married and miserable to being a single, working parent. But it was a different kind of stress. One was unhealthy and made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. The other was teaching me and pushing me to grow, mature and to develop into someone better than I was. The last 10 years have been a time of pruning and purging. Looking back now, it was a welcomed trade. It was needed.

But even after a decade of being divorced I recently found myself still having to set boundaries between myself and my ex husband. I had noticed over this past year, and especially recently in the last couple months that our conversations were not productive or healthy. It often led to arguments, fighting and eventually me getting so upset that I would cry as soon as I hung up the phone. It was also rehashing my anger, bitterness and unforgiveness; not allowing me to heal properly. It was not producing good fruit in me, which is never a good thing and often leads to sin. You would think that after a decade of being divorced that we wouldn’t have issues anymore. That’s usually the “beauty” of a divorce. You each go your separate ways, pick up the pieces and build something new and wonderful. But because of our current situation, a very highly emotional one involving our children, I found myself still chained to him.

I realized after our last giant argument that left me in tears after hurtful things were said that this needed to stop. It was driving me crazy. The very sound of his voice made my blood pressure go through the roof (and not in the good way.) It was bad enough to be in the situation that I was in, but to also have the yelling and the verbal and emotional and mental side effects that seemed to accompany our conversations on top of everything else, was too much. Why was I tolerating this? It’s like I was saying ‘yes’ to every ‘party’ he was inviting me to even though I knew how it was going to end every single time…and the party sucked! Not to mention it was sucking the life right out of me. I realized that I was going to have to be a big girl and put a stop to it because “What we allow, will continue” and I wasn’t going to allow it anymore!

A few months ago, after he had sent me a text, I called him up and told him that I didn’t want us communicating anymore. At all. Whatsoever. Don’t call me. Don’t text me. Don’t email me. Not even smoke signals. Nothing. Unless it had something vitally important to do with my children or to arrange visitation, he was not to contact me in any form. When I felt that he seemed to have grasped the gist of what I was saying I hung up the phone. And once again, I felt a weight lift off of me. I took inventory and recognized what was weighing me down and I took action to get peace back into my life. And it felt great!

I’ve done a lot of “tie severing” over the years. Whether it was cutting ties to relationships, friendships that had run it’s course or disciplining myself to form better habits while getting rid of others. Letting go of the people or things that are pulling us down is very rarely an easy process. Although certain types of people or habits will make it much easier for us to feel good about showing them the door than others.

So, how do you know if it’s time to cut ties with someone or something in your life? How do you know if someone or something has officially run it’s course and it’s time to cut the cord? Try asking yourself these questions:

Does it push you towards more breakdowns than breakthroughs?

Does it infect you rather than inspire or positively influence you?

Is it producing good fruit in your life or is it rotten?

Does it “take” more than “give”?

Have you already outlined boundaries or shared concerns and they’re simply not respecting them?

Do ‘they’ or ‘it’ fit into the life or plans that God has for you?

Are ‘they’ or ‘it’ holding you back rather than propelling you forward?

Taking inventory of our lives and the people and habits within them on a regular basis is so important. Not only to maintain a healthy you but also to ensure that you’re not sabotaging the plans for your life and what you were put on this earth to do. And you need to be at your very best to do that. It’s hard to do that when you have someone or something sucking the life out of you. It’s hard to be all you were created to be when you constantly feel like you’re drowning.

What we should keep our focus on is the end game. Because when we’re laser focused on the goal, anyone or anything that doesn’t quite fit or becomes more of a burden than a blessing automatically starts to fall away. We can’t take it with us. It’s too heavy.

It’s about keeping our head above water. It’s about staying alive. It’s about reaching the finish line and laying aside anyone or anything that has the potential to weigh us down. And not just so that we can say we survived, but so that once the storm is over we can brush off the remnants of what tried to take us down with it, move forward and win!

“…let us strip off (lay aside) every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”~Hebrews 12:1